|1:35 PM EDT||
Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 8th
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I am very pleased to present to the House H.R. 3057, the fiscal year 2006 appropriations bill for foreign operations, export financing, and related programs. This bill provides important funding for programs that support the global war on terror, the battle against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and the national interests of the United States.
The bill includes a total of $20.3 billion in new budget authority for fiscal year 2006. This represents a reduction of $2.6 billion, or 11 percent, from the President's budget request. The bill is $533 million above the fiscal year 2005-enacted level, not including the most recent supplemental appropriations of 2005. With all of the supplemental appropriations of last year included, the recommendation represents a decrease of $2 billion from the 2005 level.
As to whether this amount is considered adequate, I quote from two headlines in Associated Press articles that appeared after the subcommittee markup of June 14. The first reads: ``Lawmakers Propose U.S. Foreign Aid Boost,'' and less than an hour later the headline reads: ``GOP-Led Panel Slashes Foreign Aid Program.'' Those were headlines an hour apart. So Members can lend their support to this bill because it increases foreign aid, or they can oppose it because it slashes foreign aid, or they
can do either way with either one of those ideas.
It is important to state at the outset that the bill was developed in a bipartisan manner. I give enormous credit to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey), my ranking minority member, for engaging in a process that resulted in agreement on the basic components of this package, even if funding compromises had to be found on both sides.
We have made a focus of this year's proposal greater oversight of the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars. The report accompanying this bill includes language that requires more accountability of our foreign assistance dollars by urging the Department to set transparent goals and in tangible ways that measure progress toward these goals. Results, rather than resource levels, should be the yardstick for measuring U.S. assistance programs.
Furthermore, this bill and report include many requirements for the submission of financial plans, limiting expenditures until certain reforms are [Page: H5282]
implemented, and continuation of congressional notification requirements prior to the obligation or expenditure of funds.
With that, let me turn to some of the highlights of the bill.
First, the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The administration requests $3 billion for MCC. That would have doubled our $1.5 billion appropriation last year. We are funding it at $1.75 billion, or an increase of $250 million, 17 percent, over 2005, but $1.25 billion less than the President asked for.
As chairman of the subcommittee, I have made the MCC a priority in this bill. I believe in the President's vision for a new form of development assistance, where a country's commitment to fighting corruption, its commitment to reform, its commitment to investing in its people is complemented by an assistance package from the United States, negotiated by the country in the form of a signed compact.
On the Global Environmental Facility, the budget included a $107 million request for the GEF, up from $106 million last year. Our bill has no appropriation for GEF. As part of this multilateral agreement with donors in 2002, the GEF agreed to establish a performance-based allocation system for the disbursement of funds. Despite this agreement, GEF has resisted attempts to establish this performance-based allocation system, and I think our reduction, not including any funds for this, sends a clear
message about the imperative of reform to GEF.
On Afghanistan, the budget included a $430 million request for Economic Support Funds, ESF, for Afghanistan, an increase of $205 million over the 2005 level. It also included a request for $260 million for International Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement, an increase of $170 million over the 2005 level. This bill fully funds the $430 million in ESF and $211 million in INCLE for police and counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan. The bill also limits expenditures of about half of the ESF funds,
or $225 million, until the Secretary of State certifies to the committee that the government of Afghanistan, at both the national and the local level, is fully cooperating with the United States-funded narcotics eradication and interdiction efforts.
On the West Bank and Gaza, the budget included a $150 million request in ESF for the West Bank. The bill funds the request and retains the fiscal year 2005 prohibitions and restrictions on the expenditure of these funds, including a GAO audit of U.S. assistance. Neither the request nor the bill includes any direct budgetary support of the Palestinian Authority.
On the Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, the bill includes $2.695 billion for the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the third year of this effort. This funding level is $131 million over the President's request and $502 million over the fiscal year 2005 level. The bill includes not less than $400 million, twice the amount requested by the President, for a U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Mr. Chairman, no one in this body, no one in this country, should
doubt the commitment of this Congress to fighting the global AIDS battle.
Anti-corruption provisions. Following through on strengthening our oversight role, the bill includes a new anti-corruption measure, a provision that withholds 25 percent of the funds made available for the U.S. contribution to the World Bank's International Development Association, or IDA, until the Secretary of the Treasury certifies that the World Bank has incorporated certain procurement guidelines, withdraws its proposals concerning increasing the use of country systems procurement, establishes
a threshold for competitive bidding and, subjects competitive bidding provisions to public advertisement.
On Iraq, the budget included a request for a total of $485 million for Iraq. Our bill includes no new appropriation for this request. We are not slighting Iraq. Instead, we assume these requirements can be financed from the nearly $5 billion that remains in unobligated funds previously appropriated in the November 2003 Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund in the emergency supplemental bill.
On the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, or ACI, the bill fully funds the budget of $734 million for the multiyear Andean Counterdrug Initiative, ACI. That is an increase of $9.3 million over the current fiscal year. The United States leads the international fight against coca and poppy cultivation overseas. The narcotics industry has become a source of funding for terrorists, especially in countries like Colombia and Afghanistan. As part of the war on terror, the bill funds the President's counterdrug
initiatives for eradication, narcotics interdiction and alternative livelihood programs.
On the Conflict Response Fund, the bill does not include the administration's request for $100 million for a Conflict Response Fund, but it does have a new provision that allows the Secretary of State to reprogram and transfer funds as necessary for the purposes identified for the fund; and in other legislation, funds for the administration of that office and that program are included.
On Sudan, the bill includes $391 million, as requested, for assistance to Sudan, including $69 million for the terrible tragedy occurring in the western part of that country known as Darfur; but the assistance may only be given to the coalition government if it is in direct support of the comprehensive peace agreement with the southern part of Sudan. Development assistance to the government in the south and our humanitarian assistance in Darfur will continue unabated.
In preparing this bill, we were also faced with decreases in some areas of the budget, including for some key non-HIV/AIDS health programs and in the development assistance account. We have restored most of those reductions, and in the case of development assistance, added funds for basic education. I believe our development assistance program is a key component of our national security strategy and is critical to a positive U.S. image in foreign countries.
Basic education has become a signature issue for my ranking minority member, and I salute her for her commitment to this; but I will leave it to her to describe the details of our recommendation in this regard. Suffice it to say that I fully support her efforts to provide more educational opportunities to the impoverished youth of the world, especially women and girls.
This bill recommends $465 million for basic education activities, and that is an increase of $65 million over the amount provided last year.
The bill also fully supports USAID's work to support the microenterprise lending. Report language accompanying the bill expresses the committee's expectation that USAID programs reach the largest possible number of microenterprises and recommends $200 million for this program.
We continue an emphasis in this bill on helping developing countries build their capacity to participate in the international trading system. We have $214 million for trade capacity building efforts, an increase of $15 million over last year. Of this amount, $40 million is made available for labor and environmental capacity building activities related to the free trade agreement with the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic.
The bill fully funds the export finance agencies to promote U.S. investment overseas and create jobs in the United States' export sectors. The committee bill provides $311 million for these agencies, including the Eximbank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency, and $275 million of that is offset by collections.
The bill provides $791 million for migration and refugee assistance programs, continuing the United States' leadership in the world for providing humanitarian responses to refugee crises. This amount is $27 million over the 2005 level but $102 million less than the request.
Finally, the bill mostly restores the large proposed reduction to the child survival and health program, providing $1.5 billion for these programs, an increase of $246 million over the President's request.
We have had to reduce sums by almost $2.6 billion from the President's request to meet our allocation for this bill. Therefore, we could not provide funding for a number of new and expanded initiatives, though requested by the President or brought to this committee's attention by committee members and other Members of Congress and outside groups. [Page: H5283]
The major reductions to the President's budget includes a cut of $1.25 billion for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which I have already spoken of, $458 million from various programs in Iraq, and $300 million from the President's proposed local food purchases. This latter recognizes the decision to maintain U.S. food purchases through the PL-480 program funded in the agricultural appropriations bill. And, finally, the $100 million I spoke of from the President's proposed conflict are a transfer
of funds instead of a new appropriation.
I believe this is a balanced bill, one that provides important support for our most critical national security needs while substantially increasing funding to respond to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. It also embraces our support for overseas development assistance and humanitarian assistance activities. It meets the high priority needs of the President in these areas and accommodates congressional concerns as well.
As I said, this bill was developed in a bipartisan manner and it should have the bipartisan support of this House. So, Mr. Chairman, I urge a ``yes'' vote on this important legislation.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.